Gleb Maguire and Sean Noel pictured in their 1997 Micra. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

It’s a long way to Mongolia

Mongolia is the destination for Gleb Maguire, Seán Noel and a 25-year-old Nissan Micra.

The lads are planning to set off for the central Asian country in July as part of a fundraiser for the Irish Kidney Association.

Gleb isn’t concerned about the 10,500km journey they’re going to have to undertake.

“It’s going to take over a month in total. Probably six weeks. It’s something different, something out of the comfort zone, you know?”

The unusual fundraising idea will see them drive to Mongolia as part of the annual Mongol rally, which sees participants drive across Europe to central Asia. Under the rules, participants must raise money for charity and can only use a car with an engine smaller than 1.2 litres. No support teams are allowed and no racing is permitted on public roads.

Participants gather in Prague, where the rally officially starts, and most take one of three routes, through Moscow, Kiev and Istanbul.

Gleb and Seán are planning to take the northerly route to Mongolia, travelling via Norway, Sweden, Finland and down through Russia, into Mongolia and to the finish line in Ulan-Ude in Russia, just north of the Mongolia capital Ulaanbaatar.

It’s put to Gleb that there are plenty of other ways, some would say less stressful and dangerous ways, to raise money for charity.

“Yes we could shake buckets but it’s something different. It’s something that you’ll never forget. It’s some experience. Basically you’re on your own, there’s no backup. If the car breaks down, you have to fix it.”

While calling it a rally conjures up images of Colin McRae drifting around a gravelly corner, the Mongol Rally is more about the experience than the race.

Participants can travel alone or in a group, providing the moral support that no doubt would be needed passing through some of the most remote and deprived parts of the world.

Even though they’re not due in Prague until July 17, Gleb and Seán have already started the fundraising effort. Just over €200 has so far been raised, out of a goal of €2,500.

Monies raised will go towards the Irish Kidney Association, an important choice for Gleb.

“My dad got a kidney transplant and they do great work in Dublin with all the organ donation. So I decided to do it for them.

“Dad’s fantastic. 100%, he’s flying.”

The requirement for a car below 1.2 litres limits the choice but the decision to go with a 1997 Nissan Micra will no doubt raise a few eyebrows; particularly with a rough and difficult trip of over 10,500km ahead.

“It only has 40,000 miles, one owner from new. I got it very cheap but it’s strong enough. If we have a few spare parts, then we’re okay.

Gleb and Sean are planning to set off on their fundraiser in July, no doubt hoping it’ll be a case of Genghis Kahn, rather than Genghis Kahn’t.

They’re accepting donations at their GoFundMe page.